Sailing to Australia

13 January 2011 by Sarah Starkey

plan of accommodation on an emigrant ship

While Australia is currently suffering terrible hardships brought about by flooding, for many it was and remains a land of promise and opportunity.  This image is taken from a newspaper article from 1852 explaining the Government funded emigration system that provided assisted passage for those wanting to start a new life in the Colonies. The drawing was highlighting the space available on an emigrant vessel and the physical separation between single men and single women, located safely away from each other at either end of the ship.  Unfortunately the ship in question, the Bourneuf, did not have a successful voyage and by the time it arrived in Australia after leaving Liverpool in May 1852, 88 of the 830 passengers had died, mainly from diseases caused by poor sanitation. The ensuing enquiry banned the vessel from carrying emigrants until improvements were made, but the vessel was wrecked anyway on its next voyage from Melbourne to Bombay on the Great Detached Reef just off the Northern Australian coast. The enquiry report also stated that although the unmarried female passengers had been protected from the unmarried male passengers, they had not be able to prevent contact and fraternisation with the crew.  So, all in all, not the most successful vessel that has sailed on the high seas.

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